Linn State Technical College President Don Claycomb thinks his staff did an impressive job this week, playing host to an biennial "ThinkBIG Global Conference" sponsored and organized by Caterpillar.
"We were told by some people that we had set the bar pretty high," Claycomb said Friday afternoon. "It was quite an honor for us, and gave us the opportunity to show off our campus - especially our heavy equipment technology facility and our vehicle and power center."
Representatives of 21 colleges and universities in 10 different countries attended meetings on the Linn State campus, Claycomb said - all with the common bond of a partnership with Caterpillar and "teaching about CAT equipment, whether it be in China, Ecuador, Linn or Portland, Ore."
He added: "We talked about the size and complexity of the machines - it's really pretty mind-boggling.
"For example, their largest mining truck has tires that are 14 feet tall and the floor of the bed is the equivalent height of a second story - and it costs $5 million.
"There is a mining company in Canada that has 138 of those."
Or the "electric truck that is driven like a train locomotive because it has a large diesel engine, and then each wheel has an electric motor and a number of sensors to help control that, from a safety standpoint," Claycomb said.
"When you think about all of that technology, it takes a pretty good, trained technician to work on things like that."
An outsider likely would have gotten lost in the technical details of most of the three-day conference's sessions, Claycomb acknowledged.
Although Linn State was the host, Caterpillar paid for most of the expenses - including bringing equipment to be studied and discussed.
"About half of the group was from the U.S. and about half of the group were from other countries," Claycomb said.
In addition to the daytime meetings and study groups, the evenings included a dinner trip to the Hermannhof Winery one night, and a dinner in the Capitol Rotunda the next.
"It was amazing to me how they mixed and came together - and how much fun they had getting acquainted and networking," Claycomb said.
"Like one person told me, from South Africa's University of Johannesburg - he's found out that some of the problems they've had with student motivation are the same problems that other people have, regardless of what country they're from."